Panofka Vocal ABC

First Lessons in Singing

Heinrich Panofka (3/10/1807 – 18/11/1887) was a German violinist, voice teacher and composer. He became interested in the training of the voice, and with Bordogni he founded in 1842 an Académie de Chant. The aim of these exercises are to give the singing student more control over their voice, improving their breathing, working on the tone and resonance, improving their range and agility.

Panofka Vocal ABC – First Lessons In Singing

Although these scales are almost 200 years old, you will find that they are still used today in many voice institutions and singing lessons all around the world.

This compilation of 14 singing exercises date back to the early 19th Century when it was popular to vocalise along with piano accompaniment. They were traditionally sung wordless, but on vowel sound.

We suggest you use the vowel sounds to sing along:

  • Ah as in Apple
  • Eh as in Air
  • Ay as in Sky
  • Oh as in Orange
  • Ee as in Bee
  • Oo as in Room.

The practice of solfeggios is useful to instrumentalists and to those who intend to become composers, but is detrimental to those who wish to become singers. In fact, by commencing with the study of solfeggios, we break the established rules for developing and preserving the voice.

The human voice must mot be considered as a complete instrument upon which every kind and style of music can be executed.

It is only when the voice is fully developed that it is able, without injury to itself, to sing with the syllables do, re, mi, fa, etc.; in other words, to begin the practice of solfeggios.

Pupils, by beginning in this manner, give all their attention to intonation, and none to the quality of tone, or the manner of producing it. Now the least movement of the mouth, the tongue, the cavities of the nose, the cheeks, or even the teeth, will alter the quality of the tone of voice.

For example : when we sing “do”, we place the tongue to the roof of the mouth. When we sing “re”, we lift the tongue. To sing “mi”, we close the mouth before giving the tone. To sing fa, we first obstruct the emission of the voice to pronounce the F. And for sol, la and si, we move the tongue in various directions.

On every one of these syllables, the pupil, following the natural effects of the vocal mechanism, will alter the quality of tone, and contract faults , which afterward it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify.

Thus people who have, before the change of voice, been accustomed to these movements of the tongue, find difficulty and sometime impossibility in the delivery of the higher tones, and the voice becomes false, weak and worthless.

The cause of this is evident. Pupils who practice solfeggios neglect the quality of the tone. Some open the mouth too wide, others not wide enough ; some sing through the nose, others in the throat, etc.

These few line will suffice to demonstrate that this manner of teaching the elements of singing before the change of voice has taken place, is the real cause of the loss of so many voices, of their bad quality and the weakness of the breathing organs.

In learning properly to deliver the voice and to vocalise on the vowel a (ah), instead of using the syllables do, re, etc., it is the ear which will lead pupils, not the notes. The vocal organs will, therefore, assume from the beginning the most natural position for singing, without the pupil bestowing special attention to it.

Convinced that teaching the elements should be summed up in a few clear and concise principles, easily understood, I offer in the following pages a preparatory method of singing, to those who would avoid the evils of commencing with the solfeggios.

 

First chapter of the preface of Panofka’s Vocal ABC.

Exercise 1 – Of the delivery of the voice
Exercise 2 – Agility 1 – Exercise on three tones
Exercise 3 – Agility 2 – Exercise on five tones
Exercise 4 – Agility 3 – The scale
Exercise 5 – Agility 4 – The scale: forte, less forte and piano
Exercise 6 – Exercises of three scales
Exercise 7 – Minor scales
Exercise 8 – Exercises extending the octave
Exercise 9 – Arpeggios 1
Exercise 10 – Arpeggios 2
Exercise 11 – Portamento exercise in fifths
Exercise 12 – Portamento exercise in octaves
Exercise 13 – Portamento exercise in broken chords
Exercise 14 – To swell the tone

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 1 - Developing Tone

On Delivery Of The Voice

In order that a tone be beautiful, it must be pure, clear and sonorous. The purity is obtained by an open and frank attack of the tone with a little stroke of the glottis, an infallible means to obtain a perfectly true intonation. The clearness will be acquired by the delivery of the vovel a (ah). The sonority depends upon a proper opening of the mouth, which should be done in a natural manner, taking care that it is without effort, and that the delivery of the tone is not obstructed.

From the first lesson the utmost attention must be given to the beauty of the tone.

It is presumed that the pupil is acquainted with the rudiments of music.

The teacher sings the seven tones of the scale, and the pupil repeats them, attacking the tone in the same manner : commencing with “C” the delivery of which is easy for all voices. The mouth must be open before delivering the tone ; for if the mouth is only opened just at the moment of attacking the tone, either a guttural or a nasal sound will be produced.

The teacher will then continue to make the pupil deliver, by chromatic degrees, all the tones, the emission of which is easy; ceasing immediately when the pupil has any difficulty in producing the tone.

Principle

The upper and lower tones which cannot be delivered at the beginning with perfect ease and sonority, must not be made the objects of special practice ; they will in a short time be developed, merely by the study of the study of the tones that are easy to deliver.

The exercises are written in chromatic progressions, commencing with “A” below the staff, and ascending to “G” above the fifth line; the teacher will find it easy to indicate the tone with which the pupil (whose voice he must have examined) should begin and end his exercises.

These should always be sung with full voice, taking care that it is never strained.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 2 - Fluency On A 3rd

Agility – Exercise on Three Tones

The pupil having learned to deliver isolated tones, will now proceed to an exercise of three consecutive tones.

In this, the first tone should be attacked with a short stroke of the glottis. The teacher will first sing this exercise to the pupil.

Note – Beginners almost always lower the voice at the third tone. The best means to remedy this defect is to beat the time and mark the
third beat more distinctly.

The exercise must be first sung slowly and then progressively quicker.

In contralti the diversity of the register will become apparent in this exercise, either on the three tones D, E and F sharp, or on E flat, F and G, according to whether the first register ends with G or with F sharp. (…) In the voices of children the transition from one register to the other, although by no means so apparent as in the voices of adults, is nevertheless easily observed.

Consequently, in practising this exercise, the teacher must not lose sight on the union of the two registers. The best way to attain this result is not to let the pupil know that any difficulty of this kind is to be overcome ; and also, while breathing time, to assist him by an accented beat, as soon as he passes from the last tone of the first register to the first tone of the second register. The pupil, feeling himself supported, will overcome the difficulty without thinking of it.

It must be remembered that this union of the registers is more easily accomplished in the voices of children than in those of adults ; especially of women, whose voices have often a power and vigor which give too great intensity to the extreme tones of each register. In such cases the passage from one register to the other cannot take place without showing a perceptible difference; and it becomes, of course, more difficult to give homogeneousness to the two registers. In the voices, however, of some persons, especially from the Southern climates, this union is sometimes attained without any difficulty.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 3 - Fluency On A 5th Scale

Exercise On Five Tones

The same rules as No 2. In this exercise, the fifth tone is generally sung too low.  The teacher, therefore, while beating tie, must accent the 5th tone.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 4 - The Major Scale

The first tone to be attacked with a short stroke of the glottis, and all the tones sung in moderate movement, with equal force and full voice.

When the pupil can sing all the scales by chromati degrees, from the tone which they can easily leliver up to the last one, rendered with the same facility, the teacher can make them sing each scale three times. first  forte, then messo forte, and the third time piano; at first moderato and then progressively quicker, according to the flexibility of the voice of the pupil.

This exercise will do much toward developing the respiration

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 5 - Developing Tone and Breathing.

The aim of this exercise is the same as exercise 4 –  to sing the scale three times. Starting loud (forte), then a little quieter (mezzo-forte) and then quietly (piano), whilst maintaining accuracy with your note placement.  This exercise will do much toward developing the respiration.

The first tone to be attacked with a short stroke of the glottis, and all the tones sung in moderate movement, with equal force and full voice.

When the pupil can sing all the scales by chromatic degrees, from the tone which they can easily deliver, up to the last one, rendered with the same facility, the teacher will make him sing each scale three times: first forte, then mezzo-forte, and the third time piano; at first moderato, and then progressively quicker, according to the flexibility of the voice of the pupil.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 6 - Agility and Breathing

Exercises of Three Scales

This exercise requires equality and roundness and the avoidance of precipitation.

In singing the three scales a great step has been made toward what is called “establishing the voice” (poser la voix). To establish anything is to give it a fixed place ; thus, the exercises practised until now have, so to say, fixed the tones in the larynx, which has become a sort of keyboard, where each tone has its proper place. Consequently the pupil will never sing false, if he only thinks of the tone to be sung before he delivers it.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 7 - The Minor Scale

This scale, which is of a melancholic character, requires great attention.

It is the augmented second between the sixth and seventh tones of the ascending and between the second and the third tones of the descending scale, which gives it a particulat charm; consequently it requires great care in the intonation of these intervals.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 8 - Agility Scale (9th)

Exercise Extending The Octave

This scale works on your vocal agility. It is a 9th scale (an octave – 8th and an extra note) up and down the scale twice. The first time sing it loud (forte) and the second time sing it quiet (piano). This exercise will do much in making the voice flexible.  Also help with your tone and breath control.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 9 - Arpeggio

This exercise is an arpeggio scale (1,3,5,8,5,3,1 interval x 2) This exercise then increases in semitones up the scale. 

The rendering of the arpeggios in triplets and semiquavers requires much attention with regard to intonation.  The teacher, while beating time, will do well to accent the final tone

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 10 - Arpegppio

This exercise is an arpgeggio exercise (1,3,5,8,10 – 8,5,3,1 intervals x2). This exercise then increases in semitones up the scale. 

The rendering of the arpeggios in triplets and semiquavers requires much attention with regard to intonation.  The teacher, while beating time, will do well to accent the final tone

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 11 - Portamento Exercise In 5ths

Portamento

Portamento (Italian) means a technique of gliding from one note to another without actually defining the intermediate notes; a smooth sliding between two pitches. This exercise requires you to start the first interval of a 5th loud (forte), then repeating it quieter (piano). This exercise then increases in semitones up the scale. 

To connect two tones well in a slow movement is called portamento.

What has been learned until now, is the foundation of singing. To deliver the scales with equality. roundness and correctness, and with the lights and shades of forte, mezzo-forte and piano, is one of the most difficult exercises.

The result of the studies thus far is to have establsshed the voice, smoothed the larynx, accustomed the ear to difficult intonations and considerably to have strengthened respiration.

The pupil knows how to sing in quick movement ; consequently it will be easy for him to sing in slow movement, as he can already manage his breathing and his voice.

In now applying the portamento to fifths,* the pupil must connect the key-note with the fifth, avoiding either abruptness or mewing, but in a natural and graceful manner.

The teacher must sing a series of fifths by chromatic degrees, that the pupil may well understand the manner of singing portamento, both forte and piano.

The same rules must be applied to the study of the octave (n°12) and of the broken chords (n°13).

* I have selected the fifth, because it is the most sympathetic interval to the ear, as well as to the voice, and for this reason the easiest to be sung correctly.

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 12 - Portamento exercise in octaves

Portamento (Italian) means a technique of gliding from one note to another without actually defining the intermediate notes; a smooth sliding between two pitches. This exercise requires you to sing the first octave loud (forte) and the second octave quiet (piano). The exercise then increases in semitones up the scale. 

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 13 - Portamento exercise on Arpeggio

Portamento (Italian) means a technique of gliding from one note to another without actually defining the intermediate notes; a smooth sliding between two pitches. 

Panofka Vocal Exercise No 14 - Swell On The Tone

Swelling The Tone

Start the note quietly, increasing your volume and then bring it back to quiet. The exercise will then increase in a series of semitones up the scale. 

Swelling a tone is holding it the required time, while increasing and diminishing its power.

This exercise is a most difficult one. it requires a well-practised ear, in order to preserve the right intonation, and also a sufficient respiration. It has been placed at the last, because the previous exercises have prepared the pupil to execute it with ease and correctness. The pupil must stop holding the tone as soon as he finds his breathing becoming weak, and he must also take special care not to force a prolongation of the swell.

Start the note quietly, increasing your volume and then bring it back to quiet. The exercise will then increase in a series of semitones up the scale.